When the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program team was thinking of fundraising ideas in 2009, they had two requirements: first, there must be little or no overhead money spent on the idea and second, it had to be unique.
And so the idea of the Breeders’ Cup Pledge was born.
Eight years later, the program has raised more than $420,000 from the pledge with 100 percent of the proceeds raised going to support New Vocations’ rehabilitation and rehoming efforts.
Included among those who have pledged support throughout the years are some of the most famous names in the sport. Trainers such as Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, and Todd Pletcher make sure part of the earnings they make as trainer go toward the program while owners such as China Horse Club, Donegal Racing, Bobby Flay, the Coolmore partners, and WinStar Farm also donate to the program.
There’s no set amount that Breeders’ Cup connections must donate when deciding to pledge. Those considering have the option to donate anywhere from 0.5 percent to 10 percent on the pledge card in addition to an “other” option for connections to fill out. New Vocations is then provided the name of the horse, the name of the pledging connection(s), and the percentage pledged. Each donation is tax deductible and, if requested, the name of the pledging connection will stay anonymous along with how much has been pledged.
New Vocations’ Thoroughbred Program Director Anna Ford said over the past eight years the majority of those the program asks to pledge are happy to give to something so important to the sport.
“It’s the richest two days of racing, so it allows us to reach a lot of people in a fairly short period of time,” she said. “The other thing we have found is that the majority of the owners and trainers we ask to pledge are happy to do so. They are very excited about running in a Breeders’ Cup race and seem happy to give back.”
The money pledged has also given back to some of the horses who make the Breeders’ Cup so successful in recent years. Breeder’ Cup Sprint runner Majestic Stride, two-time Breeders’ Cup entrant Romp, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner Speak Logistics all competed in the World Championships during the last five years before retiring and being rehomed through New Vocations.
They are just three of many horses who have been rehomed through the program with even more horses being adopted from New Vocations thanks to its new Mereworth Farm property in Lexington, Ky., which has been helped in part by the Breeders’ Cup Pledge.
“The project is nearly complete and has been a huge success,” Ford said. “We have seen a 50 percent increase in adoptions, which is a direct result of having a larger facility to operate out of. We are still in need of a sponsor for our indoor arena, but I know the right person or partnership will come in time.”
As for the pledge this year, hopes are high it will be as successful as 2016, when two of the pledgers won races. Even if they don’t have that kind of result again in 2017, Ford promises the horses will have quite the cheering squad behind them going into the races.
“We are excited to see how the pledge goes again this year,” she said. “Last year we had two winners with Tourist and Classic Empire. We are very thankful to all of our past supporters and will be rooting for all who pledge this year.”
To find out more about the Breeders’ Cup pledge program and New Vocations, you can visit www.horseadoption.com.
This article is courtesy of Melissa Bauer-Herzog and America’s Best Racing.